Mitch Trubisky played as well as he possibly could in Sunday’s win against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the rookie quarterback wasn’t Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded Chicago Bears player.
That distinction belonged to cornerback Kyle Fuller, who continued his tremendous play in a contract year. And if defensive end Akiem Hicks had his way, the Bears would be that team paying to retain the free-agent-to-be’s services for 2018 and beyond.
“Kyle Fuller’s a great player, a really good guy in the locker room. He’s been dominant this year. I really hope we find a way to keep him around,” Hicks said on his weekly visit with the Mully and Hanley Show on WSCR-AM 670. “And he’s definitely going to have options as a free agent. I just know that he’s one of those players you can really count on and you want on your side when everything’s going wild.”
The Bears had an opportunity to retain Fuller had the team exercised his fifth-year option which would have locked him into a contract for 2018. However, the Bears were hesitant to hand it out to the 2014 first-round pick who missed the entire 2016 season recovering from a knee surgery that wasn’t expected to keep him out as long as it did.
The NFL’s fourth-most-targeted cornerback, Fuller was thrown at a whopping nine times by Bengals signal caller Andy Dalton. Fuller allowed just three receptions for 14 yards and added three pass break ups. It all added up to Fuller earning a team-best 91.2 grade. Meanwhile, Fuller’s overall grade has jumped to 78.8 – which ranks 45th among 118 qualifying corners. The cutoff for the above average grading level is 80, which is something Fuller is approaching as this season winds down.
It’s that kind of production that could lead Fuller to a big payday in free agency.And why Hicks hopes Fuller avoids hitting the open market altogether.